TCN recently reported that the Rijeka Tourist Board launched a Winter Pass, a special promotion that includes free admission to a dozen attractions in the city.
Anyone who books accommodation in Rijeka (min. 2 nights) before March 31st 2022 will be sent a QR code upon arrival. The code provides free entrance to several museums and other popular attractions in Rijeka – more info here.
It’s a great offer, reflecting just how much there is to see in the charming port city in the offseason. Considering booking a trip to Rijeka? We prepared a detailed overview of all the attractions included in the Winter Pass, grouped by location for your convenience.
Starting downtown across the street from the main railway station, we’ll first head to the former industrial compound that’s well on its way to transforming into a lively cultural district.
The Rikard Benčić complex consists of several buildings that used to house some of the most prolific manufacturing plants in the city, such as the sugar refinery, the tobacco factory and the factory of engines and tractors. After they’d all closed down, the location was neglected for decades until a massive reconstruction project kicked off a few years ago.
The new art quarter will consist of two museums, the city library and a children’s house. We’ll start our tour with two cultural hotspots included in the Winter Pass that have already moved into their new homes.
City Museum of Rijeka: The Sugar Palace
If your stay in Rijeka only allows for one museum visit, make it this one – and not just because of the appealing name.
Housed in the seat of the former sugar refinery, the new permanent exhibit of the City Museum of Rijeka was introduced in 2020 and has already won over the locals and tourists alike.
The city’s history is laid out chronologically and in themed sections covering various facets of life in Rijeka through the ages. Highly interactive and never boring, the collection offers insight into the local culture and presents historical events in a captivating way.
You’ll see why the museum refers to the exhibit as a ‘playful time machine’; each room is a little world of its own. Groundbreaking inventions, touching stories of emigration, political turmoil, inception of advertising, local cuisine, music legends… There’s always more to discover around the next corner of the gorgeous historical palace.
Kids will love it too – there are games, quizzes, music booths and other interactive content scattered around the exhibit.
Working hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm
Address: Krešimirova 28
Website: City Museum of Rijeka
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Wandering around a city for the first time, some locations can be hard to find. Not the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – just look for the brightest, loudest, reddest facade in town.
The red facade is a work of artist Dora Budor named Red Monochrome (There’s something terrible about reality and I don’t know what it is. No one will tell me.). Photo: PJ Rountree, source: MMSU
Having changed location several times since its inception, Rijeka’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art finally found a home it deserves in the newly restored H-building at the former industrial compound Rikard Benčić.
The new environment grew organically: the museum adopted a philosophy named ‘we need it – we do it’, presented as part of the Croatian pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennial of Architecture. Essentially, the MMCA moved to its new home as soon as conditions allowed it once the basic renovation works were completed.
© City of Rijeka (rijeka.hr)
From that point on, the museum and its home have been developing gradually and attuned to the needs of the community. MMCA is equally dedicated to celebrating champions of modernism and showcasing the work of up-and-coming contemporary artists.
What’s on at the moment? Don’t miss the video retrospective of Sanja Iveković, titled Make Up – Make Down after one of her famous works. Iveković has had a prolific artistic career mostly focusing on photography, video and performance, and she’s also the first Croatian female artist to get a retrospective at New York’s MoMA.
Working hours: Tue – Fri: 12 am – 7 pm, Sat – Sun: 12 am – 5 pm
Address: Krešimirova 26c
Exit the Benčić complex and head towards the main bus station for the next item on our list:
Rijeka Torpedo – First in the world
Did you know that the world’s first modern torpedo was invented in Rijeka? A unique exhibition housed in an old railroad warehouse tells the story of torpedo manufacturing in Rijeka.
A short recap: in the 19th century, naval officer Ivan Luppis from Rijeka presented his model for an explosive floating device to Robert Whitehead, an English engineer who managed a factory in town. The design had some faults which rendered it unusable, so Whitehead built upon the original model and came up with the world’s first self-propelled torpedo.
Having secured investment from the Austrian government, Whitehead opened the first torpedo factory in Rijeka in 1870. It grew into a successful enterprise of international renown, producing up to 160 torpedoes a month by the middle of the 20th century.
Back to the exhibition… Torpedoes and related exhibits are displayed in an insanely atmospheric space, designed to evoke a sense of being underwater. Soothing audio backdrops and gentle lighting have a mesmerizing effect and make for an unforgettable learning experience – you’ll enjoy diving in.
Working hours: visit by prior arrangement only, contact +385 51 351 092 or +385 91 502 1231
Address: Žabica 4, Railroad Warehouse
Website: Torpedo of Rijeka
On to our next location, a short walk uphill from the main promenade Korzo. Several attractions included in the Winter Pass are to be found in and around the grand Governor’s Palace:
Zoran Kurelić Rabko
Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral Rijeka
What will you find behind this mouthful of a name? A lovely museum dedicated to the vast maritime heritage of the area, located in the stunning Governor’s Palace that overlooks the city center.
Their collection features one of the five remaining life jackets from the Titanic, the only preserved one in Europe – click here for a deeper look into the fascinating story.
Among all the objects and exhibits on display, the crown jewel is perhaps the building itself. A late 19th century masterpiece, the palace was built as the residence and seat of the city governor during Hungarian rule.
Image source: Roberta F on Wiki Commons
Designed in the neo-Renaissance style, the palace was furnished and decorated by local artisans and artists – not a common occurrence as Hungarian officials at the time typically preferred to employ their nationals on such projects.
The Governor’s Palace is alone worth a visit to the Maritime and History Museum – consider it sightseeing at its finest. Explore the collection in the many splendid salons and finish the tour with a short stroll through the garden.
Working hours: Monday 9am – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 8pm, Sunday 9am – 1pm
Address: Trg Riccarda Zanelle 1
Website: Maritime and History Museum
The “Cube”, Rijeka City Museum
Before the City Museum moved the bulk of its collection to the Sugar Palace, it used to be displayed at the Cube building (Kockica in Croatian).
It remains open to visitors and will continue to host temporary exhibitions related to the history of Rijeka. Aside from an occasional exhibition, there’s not much to see at the museum itself these days, but it’s worth checking out for the architecture that stands out against the historical backdrop of the city center.
Purposely built in the 1970s to house the museum and designed by Croatian architect Neven Šegvić, the Cube is known as one of the most notable works of modern architecture in Rijeka.
The museum is located to the left of the Governor’s Palace.
Working hours: Tuesday – Friday 4pm to 7pm; Saturday 10am – 2pm
Address: Trg Riccarda Zanelle 1/1
Website: Rijeka City Museum
Natural History Museum Rijeka
Take a short walk through the park east of the Governor’s Palace and you’ll find a 19th century villa housing the Natural History Museum.
The original permanent exhibit was designed after the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, albeit on a smaller scale. Today, the museum collection features some 90.000 items related to the natural history of Rijeka and the region.
Natural History Museum Rijeka – Facebook
Numerous themed exhibits are displayed at the museum, including an aquarium, a mineral collection, a paleontology collection, and displays showcasing endemic and indigenous species from insects and reptiles to sharks.
It’s a fun place to explore and doubles as an educational visit – if you’re travelling with kids, make sure to stop by.
Working hours: Monday – Friday 9am to 8pm (break 3-4pm), Saturday and Sunday 9am to 8 pm (break 1-2pm)
Address: Lorenzov prolaz 1
The next two attractions are both located a few minutes’ walk from the Governor’s Palace.
Peek & Poke – Computer Museum
Need a change of scenery after all the regular museums? Here’s one that doubles as a time machine that everyone will love!
Peek&Poke is a display of vintage computers, gaming consoles, calculators and other bits of 20th century technology. Founded by a group of computer enthusiasts in 2007, the museum now houses a collection of more than 1000 exhibits sourced all over the world.
True to their name, they allow the visitors to poke at a good deal of displayed devices. Depending on your age, it’ll either be a trip down the memory lane or a rare opportunity to have a go at a few consoles of the past – enjoyable either way.
More fun awaits next door at the Museum of Childhood, run by the same crew as Peek&Poke. It’s a delightful display of children’s games, toys, books and other objects associated with childhood that were all used and loved in the past – the oldest exhibit dates to 1900.
The collection was built by citizens who loved the idea when the concept was first introduced and donated their old games and toys. It’s a heartwarming place that’s sure to induce some nostalgia; look around and see if anything brings back memories of the good old days.
Address: Ivana Grohovca 2
Working hours: October 15th to May 1st – Saturday 11am to 4pm. Prior arrangement is needed to visit Peek&Poke on other days of the week – contact them through this form
Website: Peek&Poke, Museum of Childhood
JGL Pharmacy Museum
Tucked away in the Old town in Rijeka is a unique destination that’s sure to spark your curiosity. Explore the hissstory of pharmacy, invites the friendly snake on the wall – the symbol of medicine and mascot of the JGL Pharmacy Museum.
The specialized museum presents the history of pharmacy on a global scale with a focus on Croatia. They’ve done a superb job with the permanent display, where VR and AR meet authentic historical exhibits such as vintage tablet-making machines and a 1909 cash register.
© JGL Pharmacy Museum
The star of the show? The central exhibit, an impeccably recreated front-end space of a typical pharmacy from the first half of the 20th century.
In case you’re wondering, the JGL in the name stands for Jadran-Galenski Laboratorij, a Croatian pharmaceutical giant that established the unique museum in collaboration with the Rijeka City Museum.
Working hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 7pm, Sunday 10am- 2pm
Address: Užarska ulica 11
Website: JGL Pharmacy Museum
Guided tours available upon request (price: 120kn)
And finally, three notable attractions outside the city center:
Perched on a hill above the city, the Trsat Castle offers a phenomenal view over the city and the Kvarner Bay, best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or a cocktail at the courtyard café.
Romulic and Stojcic
It’s a lively location these days, currently hosting a grand Advent programme that has the castle wrapped in Christmas lights – 11 kilometres in total!
The castle had a pretty eventful history: it was built by the noble family Frankopan in the 13th century and was later owned by Venetians and the Habsburgs. The present layout is owed to Laval Nugent, an Austrian field-marshal of Irish origin who got possession of the castle in 1826.
Romulic and Stojcic
Nugent restored the castle and expanded the structure with a few additions, the most notable being his family mausoleum whose entrance is guarded by two peculiar creatures – read more here.
There’s a lot to do here beyond enjoying the vistas. The castle grounds host food festivals and cultural manifestations throughout the year, with plenty of concerts and plays taking place in the summer months. The fort is also home to a sleek interpretation centre for visitors, one of the stops on The routes of the Frankopans, a cultural-tourist route you can learn more about here.
Working hours: entrance to the castle grounds 9am – 12am daily; interpretation centre for visitors: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm
The Astronomical Centre
Opened in 2009, the Astronomical Centre in Rijeka is the only such facility in Croatia that has both an observatory and a planetarium.
It’s located on a hill outside the city centre, in a former fortress built during World War II. Thoroughly renovated, the centre now features the only planetarium in the region that uses digital technology.
There are several reasons to visit the Astronomical Centre. If you’re fascinated by space, you can attend one of the presentations or films about the universe, screened on the ceiling of a spherical dome:
© Astronomical Centre Rijeka
Quite a unique venue, but there’s more: the rooftop of the Astronomical Centre offers one of the best views in Rijeka any time of day, but turns absolutely spectacular at night. It’s a perfect place for evening drinks (yes, there’s a bar), with the shimmering lights of Rijeka and the Opatija riviera reflected in the Kvarner bay.
© Astronomical Centre Rijeka
The facilities of the Astronomical Centre are wheelchair accessible.
Working hours: Tuesday – Saturday 8am to 10pm
Address: Sveti križ 33
Website/event schedule: Astronomical Centre Rijeka
Swimming Pools Kantrida
How about a few laps in the pool for a change of pace after all the sightseeing? Fans of active vacations can use their Rijeka Winter Pass to avail of free use of swimming pools in the city neighbourhood Kantrida.
The Kantrida swimming pool complex consists of five pools: indoor and outdoor Olympic pools, a 25m pool, a children’s pool and a diving pool. The facilities meet the standards of largest water sports competitions and are entirely wheelchair accessible.
© Visit Rijeka (visitrijeka.hr)
Added bonus: the sports complex is situated right above the beach. We don’t expect many enthusiasts wanting to take a dip in winter months, but it’s a lovely spot to have a coffee with a view or take a short walk by the sea.
Working hours: Mon, Tue, Wed and Fri 7am to 10pm, Thu 9am to 10pm, Sat 7am to 4pm, Sun 8am to 3pm
Address: Podkoludricu 2
Check out the timetable to see when the pools are open to the public.